Cool Curreri conquers all

Paul Curreri gives you the wonderful options of reading his stand-alone worthy words, or listening to unassumingly complex playing, or, if you’ve got the time and desire to drop your jaw for a bit, doing both. 

If you’ve got half an hour to spare, go to his website ( and read his lyrics straight through. Again, leave yourself some time to wipe the drool and push the jaw back skyward. Curreri likes honey, and trains, and cars, and bodies of water and the vessels that float on them, and nighttime. You will, too. 

Like most folkies, he digs the view on both sides of his window, except somehow he’s got way funkier windows than most people: “Funny people, you and me both/Pressing up our mouths and our foreign coasts to coast.” “Ten vultures on a deer/I’ve seen it!/I’ll not move hastily.” “Slept by her and I dreamt of bees/Stinging me one by one.” “Someone said, ‘There’s teeth in the river’/But the river got sailed.”

Or, pick a night, an evening with rain or mist and a shy moon, and get caught in the current of his clockwork acoustic guitar, get showered by the notes that arc off the strings like sparks. On the page, his lyrics get dotted with as many question marks and exclamation points as periods. Curreri wrings bent and worried tones and hacks ringing, open-ended chords to punctuate points, or question arguments, or second emotions. It’s a more lively conversation— among himself, his guitar, his characters, his listeners— than in a roomful of people.

Curreri’s voice, with its acrobatic inflections (see the vintage end-of-line downturns), his self-contained world of stream-of-consciousness jags, and his folk, country, and blues role models all make it nearly impossible not to think of Dylan. Even his appearance keeps up its end of the comparison: he looks like an unkempt slacker ragamuffin teddy bear, which is to say he looks wicked cool, like Dylan.

Unlike Dylan, he’s got a gee-whiz air about him, as if he’s almost as surprised as we are at everything going on in his songs. And if his world seems a bit opaque, he shares in the confusion himself. He’s less daring us with riddles than presenting us with them, as if to see if we can make heads or tails of them ourselves. It’s that generosity that comes through the strongest, and it is his music’s biggest strength. 


Paul Curreri performs in the round with Devon at Tokyo Rose, Saturday, February 16. $5, 10pm.